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Esther, 98, died peacefully in the early morning hours of August 29, 2021, in Peabody, Massachusetts. With her two companion cats, Snowball and Tiger, at her side, Esther closed her eyes for the final time. Born May 24, 1923, in Otterville, Missouri at her parent’s home, Esther was the daughter of Jesse and Eliza Straten. After graduating as valedictorian from Otterville High School in 1941, Esther elected to attend Central Missouri State College where she earned a B.S. degree in Music Education followed by a Master’s in Education from Northwestern University. In 1944, she accepted a teaching position at Lawson High School. After two years living in Lawson, she met, Robert M. Coffman, an aspiring accountant, through his mother. Esther and Bob enjoyed 62 years of marriage.
Music was Esther’s passion from her earliest days. She began piano lessons at age 6, then studied the clarinet. At just 12, Esther became the pianist for her parent’s church. At 13, she played piano in a music contest at the Missouri State Fair. There were many more such piano and clarinet contests over the years. As a young adult, Esther studied at the Conservatory of Music in Kansas City with well-known composer and pianist, Wiktor Labunski. Esther’s working career involved teaching children of all ages in several cities across Missouri and Kansas. Toward the end of her career, Esther was asked to oversee the music teachers and curriculum of several school districts.
In 1961, Esther switched her focus to raising children when she and Bob adopted Richard M. Coffman from an orphanage in Wurzburg, Germany. In 1963, Esther and Bob adopted Kristin Suzanne (Suzie) Coffman from the same orphanage. Esther raised Rich and Suzie in Wichita, Kansas until 1973, when the family moved to Boulder, Colorado. Esther and Bob remained in Boulder until 2004, when they moved to Surprise, Arizona to enjoy the sunshine, low elevation, and endless retirement community activities. Their grandchildren loved the proximity to so many swimming pools. A few years after Bob’s passing in 2010, Esther moved again, this time heading to Peabody, Massachusetts to a large retirement community near her son’s family. Esther enjoyed her new community by singing in the church choir, playing piano solos during Sunday church services, participating in the Scottish and Classical Music clubs, and mostly dining with her dinner group of 8 women.
Esther was preceded in death by her husband Bob Coffman. She is survived by a daughter, Suzie, of Sandpoint, Idaho and a son and daughter-in-law, Rich and Gabrielle Coffman of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Also surviving are four grandchildren (Dakota Kivett, Stratton, Graham and Isabel Coffman) and two nieces (Diane and Melinda Coffman).
The family would like, in particular, to thank homecare provider BrightStar Care and their aides for years of compassionate care of Esther. Several of Esther’s aides became good friends as they joined her in supporting the New England Patriots and loving her companion cats. Esther will be buried next to Bob in the Coffman family plot in the cemetery in Lawson, Missouri. Contributions may be made in Esther’s memory and life-long love of cats to The Marblehead Animal Shelter (marblehead-animal-shelter.org).